The 4-Hour Workweek: Chapter Summary (Chapter 4: System Reset)
The aim of Chapter 4 is to shake things up and get people moving. Its main themes are:
· Big, unreasonable goals are easier to accomplish than mediocre, “reasonable” goals, partly because of the lack of competition and partly because of the adrenalin rush that accompanies setting and achieving large goals. Ferriss gives the example of a trip to the Greek islands versus a weekend in Columbus, Ohio. As he puts it, the second option is just not enough to inspire him to change his morning breakfast cereal, which makes it unlikely to happen.
· Happiness is defined as excitement, its opposite being boredom, not sadness. Ferriss is convinced that most people don’t know what they want relative to the big picture of their lives. Dreams and goals should therefore be worded not in large undefined terms like “happiness” but as smaller specific objectives that promise excitement.
Enter dreamlining, a method designed to shake off the stupor and reintroduce adventure and excitement. It wards off the dread syndrome of the “fat man in the red BMW”—the lifestyle that uses things and status symbols to mask inner dissatisfaction. Dreamlining stresses being and doing over having, though it allows some having, acknowledging that it can be part of a person’s self-expression.
Dreamlining is another “brain-vomiting” exercise, this time within a specific framework. It is the antedote to what Ferriss calls ADD, or Adventure Deficit Disorder, the reality behind the “fat man in the red BMW” that is all too often compensated for by attempting to fill the void with endless hours of work, an ever accumulating bank account, and rooms full of fancy things. As mentioned above, the cause for this behavior is the lack of interesting, defined goals. According to Ferriss, dreamlining works because it “applies timelines to what most would consider dreams.”
To help save time and galvanize people into action, Ferriss has concocted a dreamlining form along with additional forms and automatic calculators available through fourhourblog.com. He further moves the process along by asking pointed questions designed to shake our minds loose from all the standard fears and self-imposed restrictions (even if we think some outside source is placing them on us). We’re asked to create goals within specific parameters such as “one place to visit,” “one thing to do before you die,” and “the four dreams that would change it all;” and to focus on doing rather than being and having. Once we’ve established the “what,” Ferriss shows us how to calculate our projected costs and Target Monthly Income (TMI) as well as Target Daily Income (TDI), which he claims are generally lower than expected—something that has been validated by other world travelers. All of this is done within the framework of a 6-month and 12-month timeline. The next vital point is to determine three steps for each of the four major goals and to do the first of the three steps now, the second tomorrow, and the third the day after. This is critical. The very first steps should be simple and quick so that there’s no excuse for not doing them, since their main purpose is to set the wheels in motion. As Ferriss says,
Tomorrow becomes never. No matter how small the task, take the first step now!
The chapter ends with a comfort challenge, one of Ferriss’s main techniques for loosening people up and getting them used to acting outside of their comfort zones. These vary from “eye-gazing” to contacting famous people and getting them to answer one question. Ferriss practices these exercises himself because he believes discomfort to be an important element in an active life that dares to step outside of the norm.